Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we’re asked at Neighbourhood Watch

About Neighbourhood Watch

What is Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) is a community-based crime prevention program which aims to improve the quality of life within a neighbourhood by minimising preventable crime and promoting closer community ties. The program relies on the community and the police working together in a partnership.

What are Neighbourhood Watch’s main objectives?

NHW aims to:

  • encourage closer ties between community members and local police
  • minimise the incidence of preventable crime
  • deter criminal activity by increasing the probability of apprehension
  • reduce the fear of crime
  • increase the reporting of crime and suspicious behaviour
  • improve the degree of personal and household security through education
  • support the crime prevention activities of Victoria Police.
What does Neighbourhood Watch do?

We support individuals and groups to create safer, stronger, more active communities. Thanks to our thousands of volunteers and groups in communities across Victoria, we’re able to share information, run events and activities, and work in partnership with Victoria Police and other local organisations to prevent crime and help people feel safer.

When did Neighbourhood Watch start in Victoria?

The very first meeting of the first group was held on 15 June 1983, in Kananook.

How did Neighbourhood Watch begin?

NHW as a concept originated in the United Kingdom. It started here in Victoria, when it was realised that the Victoria Police alone could not control the rising crime rate, in particular, the high number of burglaries and related thefts. Police sought public support to help reduce these crimes and decided to pilot a Neighbourhood Watch program with the Kananook community (a suburb of Frankston) in 1983. The success of this pilot saw the NHW program expand to other areas in 1984.

Who started Neighbourhood Watch?

Victoria Police started the first Neighbourhood Watch pilot program in Victoria in 1983.

Are you part of Victoria Police?

No. Since 2013, Neighbourhood Watch Victoria has been an independent, not-for-profit organisation. However, we continue to work closely with police on community crime prevention activities.

Are you run by the government?

Neighbourhood Watch is a registered charity. We are independent of Government but work closely with the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

Who funds Neighbourhood Watch?

Our funding primarily comes from the Department of Justice and Community Safety. We also receive financial support from some of our corporate partners, such as our major partner RACV.

Are you a charity?

Yes, we are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission.

Who is the team at NHW?

Our state office has a team of 4 staff – CEO Bambi Gordon, Administration and Membership Manager Nicoll Peschek, Marketing and Content Lead Adriana Sahrizan and Community Engagement Officer Arsh Singh. We also have a 11-member independent volunteer Board.

How effective is NHW in reducing crime?

Residential burglary offences in Victoria had increased every year before Neighbourhood Watch was introduced in Victoria – reaching a peak of 51,090 in 1984. The figures have never been that high since – police maintain that NHW’s intervention changed the residential burglary rate permanently. For comparison 21,804 residential burglary offences were recorded in 2022.

Over the past 40 years, we have seen crime rate reductions of 40% or more in areas that have Neighbourhood Watch groups. This coincides with increased levels of “perceptions of safety” among community members.

Where in Victoria is Neighbourhood Watch located?

We have more than 190 groups spread across 55 of Victoria’s 79 local government areas. We have groups in metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria. Our state office is located at the Victoria Police Centre in Melbourne.

How does Neighbourhood Watch work?

There is a local Neighbourhood Watch group in around 55 Local Government Areas (LGAs). Each group can comprise anywhere from 10 to 700-plus members and operate at a suburb, town, estate, or street level.

The local groups are supported by the State Office which prepares campaign and educational material to share both with member groups and the broader community through social media, events, newsletters, and other channels.

Where there is no local group, the State Office aims to support activities in that community until a new group is formed.

Groups meet with their local police regularly to find out what are the local crime issues.

They then undertake a range of activities including events, letterbox drops, seminars, forums, and community newsletters, all to assist in building awareness of the local crime issues, helping people to learn how to protect themselves from crime and encouraging people to report suspicious activity.

How do you measure Neighbourhood Watch’s success?

Where once success was measured by the number of volunteers we had across the organisation, we now look at success as the reach and impact of our brand on educating and motivating people to “target harden” against crime and to connect to their community. The reach and impact of our brand is enhanced by our volunteers working with their neighbours and local communities at the grassroots.

Programs, activities and events

What programs does Neighbourhood Watch run?

Currently, our 3 overarching programs are How Safe Is My Place, Building Community Together and Neighbourhood Watch 4 Kids. Each of these core programs has numerous components, some of which include:

  • How safe is my house: A free online quiz where you can assess how secure your home is and get customised hints and tips to reduce your risk of burglary.
  • How safe is my school: An interactive school-based learning resource for primary-school children to help improve their safety knowledge.
  • How safe is my farm: A free online quiz where farmers or farm dwellers can learn where their property might be vulnerable to crime and how they can improve security.
  • Travelling in the community: An interactive e-learning journey to prepare kids to travel around their neighbourhood safely by themselves.
  • Say Hi: A campaign which encourages people to get to know their neighbours, to help improve their feelings of safety, connection and wellbeing.
  • Neighbourhood Watch Pop-up: A free street barbecue where neighbours can get to know each other as a first step towards building a sense of community.
How often does Neighbourhood Watch run events?

Our groups regularly run events throughout the year. Neighbourhood Watch staff also attend several local events and festivals.

What types of events and activities do you have?

Some of the activities and events our groups are involved in include:

  • Safe Plate events where number plates are fitted with anti-theft screws
  • Community safety forums and expos,
  • Engraving days where valuables are marked to deter theft
  • Graffiti removal working bees and community clean up days
  • Information stands at shopping centres and community events
  • Junior Neighbourhood Watch programs in schools
  • Community sausage sizzles and
  • “Coffee with a cop” mornings where local residents can chat with police about their concerns and ask questions.
  • Community sausage sizzles.
  • Barbecues morning teas and lunches where neighbours can get to know each other.
  • Managing lost child booths at community events and markets.
  • And many, many more.
Where can I find out more information about your events?

Keep an eye on our events calendar to see what events we have coming up and when we’re having one near you.

Getting involved

How can I get involved with NHW?

There are heaps of ways you can get involved with Neighbourhood Watch:

  • Subscribe to our eNews
  • Follow us on social media and share our posts
  • Attend one of our events
  • Volunteer at local Neighbourhood Watch activities
  • Join us and become Neighbourhood Watch member
  • Partner with us
  • Connect with your local group or start a new group if there isn’t one in your area
Who can join NHW?

Anyone can become a member of Neighbourhood Watch. All we ask is that you’re committed to working alongside your neighbours and fellow community members to help make the place where you live safer, friendlier and more vibrant.

How do housing estates become involved with NHW?

If you are a property developer and are interested in your estate being part of our Building Community Together program, email our CEO at

How can my business become involved with NHW?

If you’re interested in becoming a corporate partner with Neighbourhood Watch, would like to discuss possible collaborations, or would like to become part of our Engage Network, email our CEO Bambi Gordon at

How can I volunteer with Neighbourhood Watch?

We love to welcome new volunteers. Complete our new member enquiry form and we’ll put you in touch with your local group.

Neighbourhood Watch groups

How do I find my local group?

Use our Find a group locator to find your closed Neighbourhood Watch group.

How do I join a group?

Once you’ve found out if there’s a group in your area, fill out our new member enquiry form and we’ll put you in touch with them.

What if there’s not a group in my area?

If there’s not a group in your area, you might be interested in starting one. Find out what’s involved here.

I want to start a group in my area, how do I go about doing it?

First, check out our Find a group locator to see if there’s already a group that covers your area. If there isn’t one:

  • read about what’s involved in starting a group,
  • complete our starting a new group form.
  • Our State Office team will then answer all your questions, provide information and support and help you get started.
How do I start a local NHW Facebook Page?

If there’s not currently an accredited local Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page for your area, please reach out to us using our starting a new group form and indicate your interest.

Once we have your completed NHW membership form and a National Police Check, we will set the page up for you and provide you with resources, guidelines and support to help get you started. All official Neighbourhood Watch Victoria Facebook pages must be accredited by our State Office.

What sort of things do local groups do?

Our local groups run lots of great activities such as school safety programs, graffiti removal working bees, community mural projects, tradies tools events, barbecues, neighbourhood picnics, home safety audits, Safe Plate events and heaps more.

Neighbourhood Watch membership

Why do people join Neighbourhood Watch?

People get involved with Neighbourhood Watch for many different reasons, whether it’s to improve security around their home, wanting to make their neighbourhood safer, be part of a local group and meet new people or make a difference in their community. Some people join because they’ve been a victim of crime; others because they’ve moved into a new housing development or are starting a family, and protecting family and property becomes more important to them. Neighbourhood Watch helps people connect with their neighbours and others within their community who share the same desires, and this helps boost their feelings of security and general wellbeing.

Who can join Neighbourhood Watch?

Anyone is welcome. Our 4,5000 members come from all walks of life – students, workers, retirees, men, women, non-binary, young people, LGBTIQA+ people, mums and dads, and people from many culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

How much does it cost to join Neighbourhood Watch?

NHW Membership is free.

How do I become a Neighbourhood Watch member?

First, check out our Find a group locator to see if there’s a group in your area. If there is, fill out our new membership application form and we’ll put you in touch with them. A representative of your local NHW group will contact you to introduce you to the group and sort out your membership.

What’s required for me to be a member?

Enthusiasm, positivity, and a willingness to work alongside your neighbours and other community members to help make your community safer, stronger and better connected.

What sort of things do Neighbourhood Watch members do?

There are roles in Neighbourhood Watch that cater for your skills, energy and interests. There literally is something for everyone. Some of the things you may do include:

  • Directly support the police in reducing crime in your local area.
  • Deliver newsletters to households in your area.
  • Help at community events with distributing material and sharing info on Neighbourhood Watch, crime prevention, home security and personal safety.
  • Assist with crime prevention activities such as installing theft-resistant screws on car number plates or engraving bikes and other valuables for easy identification.
  • Help produce a Neighbourhood Watch newsletter for your local area.
  • Help manage your group’s local Facebook page.
  • Taking a management role in NHW including being Secretary or Treasurer of a local group.
What types of volunteer roles does Neighbourhood Watch have?

Some of the volunteer roles our groups have include:

  • Chair
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Membership coordinator
  • Newsletter editor
  • Website coordinator
  • Social media coordinator
  • Newsletter deliverers
  • Event coordinator
  • Event workers
  • Project coordinators

Read more about volunteering with your local Neighbourhood Watch group

How much time do I need to commit?

How much of your time you give, is totally up to you.

Would I have to attend meetings?

Most groups have regular meetings which all members are encouraged to attend to learn more about crime and its prevention in their area. Attendance at meetings, however, is not compulsory.

Reporting crimes and anti-social behaviour

What crimes can I report to Neighbourhood Watch?

None. Neighbourhood Watch is not a crime reporting service. We can only provide tips and advice on how you can protect yourself from crime and get to know your neighbours better.

Crimes should be reported to:

  • Victoria Police on Triple Zero (000), if it’s happening now
  • the Police Assistance Line on 131 444, if it’s not urgent
  • Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, if you wish to report information about crimes confidentially
When do I call Triple Zero (000)?

When it comes to crime and police, if something is happening NOW, call Triple Zero (000). They will decide whether it is a priority to attend.

If the situation has passed and doesn’t need immediate police attention, call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or report it online.

With fire and ambulance services, call triple Triple Zero (000) if life or property is being threatened, if someone needs urgent medical attention or you see flames.

When do I call the Police Assistance Line?

Call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 if the crime has already happened or you don’t need police to respond straight away, eg: to report theft, property damage, lost property or COVID-19 breaches, to register a party or absence from residence or for general police enquiries. You can report non-urgent crimes or events 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also submit an online report.

When do I call Crime Stoppers?

Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to report crime information confidentially, provide information about people, incidents or vehicles of interest to police or information that could prevent a crime. You can also lodge an online report.

If I’m having problems with my neighbours, can Neighbourhood Watch Help?

It depends on the issue.

Neighbourhood Watch can provide information and tips about how to get to know your neighbours and get along with your neighbours.

If you’re having problems with your neighbours, it’s always best to try and constructively work out any issues together first, before making any formal complaints or reports. This helps you maintain a good relationship with them, so you can deal with any future matters in a friendly and informal way.

If the problem continues, who to contact depends upon the issue. If it’s about animals or unreasonable residential noise, contact your local council. If it’s about noise late at night, like loud parties, or where the noisy neighbour might also be threatening, call police when it’s happening.

If you believe something criminal has occurred or might occur, contact either the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or report it to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

What’s considered “suspicious behaviour” and what should I look out for?

Behaviour is suspicious, not people. It’s when someone is doing something that seems unusual and out of place from what’s normal. Just because someone you don’t know is walking down your street or sitting in a car, doesn’t mean they’re suspicious. But if they are looking into multiple car windows and trying door handles or going through home letterboxes or trying to enter your neighbour’s house when you know they’re not home – that’s suspicious.

Crime statistics

How can I find out the latest crime figures for Victoria?

The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) is an independent organisation responsible for processing and analysing Victorian crime statistics and making them public. It’s where the public and community organisations can get accurate crime data, independent of Victoria Police. The figures are released quarterly – in March, June, September, and December. These releases include the number and rate of offences across Victoria, demographic characteristics of victims and alleged offenders and family and domestic violence incidents.

Where can I get crime statistics for my area?

The Crime Statistics Agency website has an interactive tool called “Latest crime data by area” where you can see what’s going on in within your local government area (LGA), postcode, suburb or town.

The Data Visualisation tool presents the data for each LGA in a clear, visual, easy-to-understand format and provides statistics for the previous 10 years. The tabular visualisa

The Tabular Visualisation section, allows you to see statistics for your particular town or suburb over the past 10 years, including by offence type.

Read our simple step-by-step guide to accessing your local crime information.

How do I go about getting more localised crime info for my neighbourhood or street?

NHW groups have close relationships with their local police and can get de-identified information on local issues and crimes and recent crimes trends. Most NHW groups publish this information at their regular meetings, in their newsletters or on their social media. It’s another great benefit of being involved with your local group.

Neighbourhood Watch myths and misconceptions

Is Neighbourhood Watch still around?

Yes, we’re still going strong after 40 years. We have more than 190 local Neighbourhood Watch groups across rural, regional and metropolitan Victoria. We probably have one in your area.

Did Neighbourhood Watch used to run the Safety House program?

No, we didn’t. Although Victoria Police were closely involved in both Neighbourhood Watch and Safety House, they were totally separate programs which operated under the banner “Working Together”. Since 2013, Neighbourhood Watch has been run as an independent not-for-profit organisation. The Safety House program ended in July 2013.

Neighbourhood Watch is a police program, right?

Nope. Although we started out as a Victoria Police program, we’re now an independent, community-based charity and have been since 2013. However, we still work closely with Victoria Police on community crime prevention.

Doesn’t Neighbourhood Watch patrol the streets at night looking for crimes and crooks?

No, we don’t have teams of people doing street patrols – that’s what the police are for! But we do support police in helping to spread crime prevention information and encouraging people to report suspicious behaviour.

Isn’t Neighbourhood Watch just a bunch of old white people?

Neighbourhood Watchers come from all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds. We pride ourselves on being an open, inclusive organisation, welcoming people from all walks of life.

Isn’t Neighbourhood Watch just an excuse to spy on your neighbours?

Over the years our work has evolved, but at our core we still help people learn how to protect themselves from crime. We’re also about encouraging neighbours to get to know one another, interact and work together to create strong, vibrant, safe, connected neighbourhoods. Part of our work involves encouraging neighbours to watch out for each other and report any suspicious behaviour they see in their neighbourhood – such as strangers looking in multiple letterboxes along the street, trying the door handles of several different cars or an intruder lurking in a neighbour’s yard.

Can’t find the answer to your question?

If you’re question isn’t here, you’d like more information or we can help in another way, please contact us.

Useful resources

Find a group – Neighbourhood Watch Victoria

Volunteer with a group – Neighbourhood Watch Victoria

Start a group – Neighbourhood Watch Victoria

Find local crime statistics – Neighbourhood Watch Victoria

Connect With Us

Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.